This opening chapter is something I've always wanted to see: Spooky Scary Skeletons vs. Fleshy Fish Faces. Other discarded titles include "Bone Boys vs. Ichy Ichthyoids", "Pearly Whites vs. Ghastly/Ghoulish Grays", and "The Walking Undead vs. The Swimming Half Alives".
I've only seen the first three movies, so this story is dependent only on the lore of those three. I originally intended for this to be a one-shot, but now I've got a few more chapters in the works. It'll probably be around 5 chapters in the end, and shouldn't exceed ten total. I also intend to upload in bursts - i.e. a couple of chapters at a time. The finale is written, but I haven't quite worked out how to get there yet. And just so we avoid any confusion, William Turner Jr. (i.e. Will) won't be making any appearances. Thus, every time the name "William Turner" is used, it will be referring to William Turner Sr., more commonly known as Bootstrap Bill Turner.
Standard disclaimer: I don't own Pirates of the Caribbean. I don't intend to profit from this. Entertainment purposes. Yadda yadda.
Hope you enjoy.
Chapter 1 - The Undead vs. The Undying
It was a night of the full moon, but many clouds blocked the light, too dark for mortal eye to see star, ship, or sky.
"I see it, captain!" shouted the lookout. "Wicked Wench, dead ahead."
"Your target is Jack Sparrow," the Captain of the Flying Dutchman addressed his crew. Jack Sparrow's thirteen years were up, and it was time to collect – either him, the Wench, the promised price, or all three. "Slay any who resist. Give quarter only to those who surrender..." he grinned, "or survive." And maybe he'd get a few extra souls along the way.
Most of his crew wore similar smirks. "Aye!"
"The one who brings Sparrow to me shall have a year removed from service." A single year would not matter, nor two nor three. "Four years, if you fetch him alive." Nor four, nor five. That's why the smarter crew members bet with increments of ten years of service. The compulsions set in at ten. The full transformation by fifty. By eighty, they can no longer think of leaving. Part of the crew, part of the ship. "The Bo'sun will punish those who attempt to cheat." And disobedience would speed the curse along. "Years will be added if I learn of treachery." A crew that fought amongst itself for the reward would not be tolerated. "You will be rewarded only for true service to the Dutchman. Understood?"
"Aye aye!" echoed the entire crew, save a single soul. As the crew fetched ropes, weapons, and gangplanks, that soul stepped forward. His bootstraps made little splashes as he strode.
"Cap'n," said the man.
He was an interesting case - of all who serve before the mast, he is the only one who chose his service. He did not fear death like the others. He desired for it, wishing to escape a living Hell. He spoke not of how he came to be strapped to that cannon on the ocean floor, nor of how he survived while there. Jones would get the truth from him eventually; the Curse of the Ship, Curse of the Crew would wear his will away until he no longer remembered his reasons for silence. But for now, the past of William Turner would remain a mystery.
"Maybe the Kraken would be better," Bootstrap advised. "Less trouble that way. We could fetch 'im in the Locker."
Davy Jones raised an eyebrow at the man. "The captain commands this ship, Mr. Turner, not the crew. Unless you have a reason for concern?"
"I do," said the man, glancing nervously at the Wicked Wench. "Heard tales of that ship. Black sails. Black hull. Faster than any other."
"I know," said Jones. "I raised it from the depths."
The man looked startled for a moment, then frowned. "Then you know it's manned by a crew of the damned?"
Now the Captain of the Flying Dutchman was frowning. "Who says that tripe?" he spat. Not his crew, that was certain.
"The victims," Bootstrap breathed grimly. Jones raised both his eyebrows. "I've been to port more recently than your crew, sir- heard rumors, I have. That's... part of where my concern comes from, sir."
Jones recognized forced honesty when he saw it. "Part of whence your concern comes? It comes from naught elsewhere? The mysterious past of which you refuse to speak, perhaps?" He was not curious enough to reduce the man's sentence in exchange for information, whether about the man's current concerns or about whatever led him to be on that ocean floor, but he could pry as often as he wished. The crew of the Dutchman could not lie to its Captain, at least. "Well, Mr. Turner? What say you?"
The man seemed to shrink beneath the stern gaze of his captain. "A direct engagement might not be smart. That's all I'm sayin'." The man glanced at the Wicked Wench once more. "We're almost in range. If you're set on this course, I best return to my post."
Captain Barbossa prided himself on his sharp wit. He was a man of learning – a scholar and a gentleman.
That's why the Captain's cabin of the Black Pearl, né the Wicked Wench, was bursting to the brim with books. Walls were lined with logs and legends. Floorboards were littered with loose papers and parchments (which were no longer legible enough to read, and so served as a carpet of sorts). Chests were chock full with fiction; cabinets were categorized into various collections of calligraphy and cartography; drawers were deep with delicately drawn and detailed maps. The room was mostly soundproof as well. (A great blessing on this particular ship, Barbossa thought.)
The centerpiece of his cabin was a governor's desk of impeccable craftsmanship, upon which laid detailed notes written by his own hand. Barbossa sat there now, mapping his ship's movements, with no outside sound or sight to distract him.
The attack went normally at first. Once they were close enough to teleport, the crew of the Flying Dutchman apeared on the deck of the Wicked Wench. Unkillable by mortal means, they stormed the ship above and below, scared sailors, slit throats, and locked swords. Their opponents fought back viciously, but that always happened with pirates.
The first to notice something off was Maccus: first mate of the Flying Dutchman. (His old name Marcus meant 'sledgehammer' in Latin – fitting now that he wore the face of a hammerhead shark.) Early on, Maccus had thrown an axe into the back of a wild, insane, shouting man who had inspired a bit of fear even in the Dutchman's crew. The axe slammed squarely into his spine; a deadly blow certain to lay any mortal low. Maccus had gone on to attack others but he paused when the chaos of the fight eventually brought him face-to-face with that very same crazy man, who looked alive and healthy.
Maccus tilted his head. "Didn't I kill you?"
The man, with a gleeful glint in his eye, lit the fuses of two handheld bombs.
The quill trembling in its well was the first sign something was wrong. The second sign, as Barbossa was broken from his reverie and took a moment to reflect, was that his Boatswain had not yet reported on the status of ship and crew. That was a nightly occurrence which should have happened... he glanced at the grandfather clock appropriated during a recent raid... ten minutes ago. He sighed, carefully cataloged his captain's log, then stood from his desk, extinguishing the candle as he did so.
Boatswain Joshamee Gibbs was doing what he did best: observing the battle from a safe vantage point (i.e. cowering in a barrel) so there would be someone to tell the tale of it afterwards.
Barbossa sighed to himself as he fetched his hat and garb. He preferred to remain inside his cabin on nights like this. The Curse of Cortez was at its worst on nights of the full moon, the feelings of emptiness the most profound, the need for salvation the most desperate. Worse still, yesterday his crew had found the cannon to which they'd strapped Boostrap's bootstraps. But Bill Turner himself was nowhere to be seen on the seafloor, just the cannon.
When the blood of the man's offspring hadn't worked a year ago, they'd set out to find the true bearer of the Curse of Cortez. With their most recent venture failed, they were headed to the nearest port - port Royal - to begin a manhunt.
Cotton's Parrot was repeating "Dead men tell no tales!" somewhere in the rafters. Cotton himself trailed behind the dwarf Marty, who was using his diminutive size to speed through the battle and shatter the shins of any fish person he found.
Since the crew would be restless and the curse worse than usual, Barbossa had intended to keep to himself that night. But trouble was trouble, and Barbossa was not one to shirk his duties as captain. If the crew had another accident with gunpowder, or dropped a heavy item in transport, or were otherwise restless, they would now be brawling amongst themselves – a weekly occurrence at least. Fighting was a favored pastime when you couldn't be hurt, let alone killed. He even heard the sounds of it as he moved from cabin to hallway. He needed to be there to be sure they broke nothing important as they squabbled.
Pintel was cursing his bad luck. He just had to mess around with those fancy clothes tonight of all nights. His companion Ragetti was busy chasing down that wooden eyeball, leaving Pintel alone to lock weapons with a fish person. If you could call a frilly umbrella a weapon.
When Hector Barbossa opened the door to the deck, it was not a brawl but a full-scale battle which met his eyes. The Black Pearl was being raided, even though no ship could be seen nearby, nor land on the horizon, and they hadn't won yet despite their immortality.
"WHAT IN BLAZES BE THIS?!" he shouted into the midst of the massive melee.
His question attracted the attention of an attacker – a blue, slimy creature with the face of an eel and the body of a man. The thing charged, menacing as a moray, and Barbossa swiftly drew his sword. He delivered a deft, deadly strike, severing head from neck in a sure, single swipe. If he had been captain of any other crew, he might have been shocked that the thing didn't immediately die. It instead began staggering around like a chicken with its head cut off, whipping its weapon wildly about and beginning to lose its balance. Barbossa kicked the teetering torso, causing it to topple over, then took stock of the situation.
Though it was a night of the full moon, there were thankfully enough clouds to cover it. The true forms of himself and his crew were thus hidden, but nothing could hide the fishy features of the enemy. They had the shapes of men, but skins of all manner of sea creatures – fins of fish, scales of sharks, claws of crustacians, bellies of bloat, beards of barnacles, appendages of anemonies, legs of lobsters, and more.
If that had been all, he might not have been so worried; even monsters can be killed.
The problem being that these monsters couldn't be killed. His crew was battling, fiercely and ceaselessly, against an enemy of similar strength and mortality – that is, both sides were about equal in terms of manpower and munitions, and both sides were equally immortal. The enemy's captain did not seem to be among the attackers, but Barbossa still knew who commanded them thanks to the tall tales of his Boatswain. "Davy Jones," he whispered.
And a humanoid shape appeared before him, as if summoned. The peg-legged figure wore a captain's hat and garb, but its resemblance to a normal sailor ended there. It had octopus tentacles in place of a beard, octopus tentacles in place of fingers – on one hand, that is. A giant crab claw replaced the other.
"Barbossa, first mate of the Wicked Wench," said the Captain of the Flying Dutchman. "Retrieve your captain."
Fear briefly battled against his pride.
Barbossa swept a formal bow, taking off his hat to do so. "I am Captain Barbossa of the Wicked Wench, at your service." He placed his feathered cap firmly back on his head. "But we call it the Black Pearl now."
"Very well." Davy Jones drew his sword. "Do you fear death, Captain Barbossa?"
Barbossa paused. "What living soul doesn't?" he asked, phrasing his response very carefully.
He did not, at the moment, fear death. If the Curse of Cortez kept up much longer, he might even welcome it.
"Then retrieve Jack Sparrow and you will be spared," Jones ordered, taking his response to mean 'yes'.
"I'm afraid I can't do that. You see, Sparrow is..." Barbossa grinned, "...no longer with us."
Jones' eyes narrowed. "You killed him?"
Barbossa laughed. "Nothin' so simple. We just mutinied against him, left him for dead on a God-forsaken island with no food or water, and a pistol with a single shot." Barbossa then grinned even wider than before. "Turns out we didn't have as much luck killin' him as we thought. Just like you won't be havin' much luck," he used his sword to point at Jones', "killin' me with that."
Without any hesitation at all, Davy Jones strode forward and plunged his weapon into Barbossa's chest. The Captain of the Black Pearl could have dodged or parried, but would that have conveyed the message? Not at all. So he simply let the sword pass through the flesh he was wearing, the flesh that was purely cosmetic. In the meantime, his eyes noticed a flash of metal within the mess of tentacles that served as the man's beard.
The eyes of Davy Jones crinkled with cruelty, though they widened in shock soon enough. Barbossa rolled his own and sighed. "You really should be doin' your research first. Observe."
Swift as a swordfish, Barbossa whipped his own weapon and slashed through Jones' beard (and possibly neck), causing the captain to shout in pain. The wounds healed quickly, but that was expected. Barbossa's intention had not been to kill the nigh-immortal man standing before him.
A key was now on the ground, grasped by a lone tentacle which twisted and writhed despite being severed.
When Jones realized what he had lost, he dashed forward in an attempt to retrieve it. But Barbossa blocked his path and slashed out again, this time seeking not to wound but instead to behead. Jones would probably survive even that, but he would likely be incapacitated if decapitated, same as the eel man. Jones parried Barbossa's strike, he parried, using a sword grabbed from said stumbling, headless eel man. The two captains locked eyes, then Jones slashed back, forcing Barbossa to engage in a proper duel. The swordplay lasted only as long as it took Barbossa's animal companion to do what it did best: steal small valuables that other people wanted.
Barbossa made one final parry, then quickly retreated away from the space of deck where the key had fallen. The Captain of the Flying Dutchman frantically looked to the wooden planks which Barbossa was no longer guarding, but his eyes darted back to Barbossa the moment he realized the object of his search was missing. Barbossa now stood at the edge of the ship, with only shrouds and gunwale between him and sea. He leaned casually against the vertical ropes.
"Why thank ye, Jack," said Barbossa, smiling as the key was put in his hand and givng the monkey a peanut. Jack ate the peanut in one bite, then started munching on the tentacle it had pried loose from the key ring.
"Sparrow?" Jones demanded.
"No, we named the monkey Jack."
"HA!" Jones shouted in a surprised bark of laughter, even despite the circumstances. "A fitting name!"
"My thoughts exactly." Barbossa held the key aloft, again wearing a grin. "Perhaps now we can negotiate like civilized seamen? Or if you prefer," he glanced down at the sword still sticking out of his left breast, "we could resume our battle and risk," he thrust the hand holding the key through the ropes and over the water, "an accident."
This got the same reaction from Jones that accursed woman had drawn from him and his crew years ago. That wench was worse even than other pirates. Made them a pretty penny in ransom, though, and even offered to be their 'ear on the inside', in return for a favor... but that was neither here nor there.
Barbossa's grin widened at the sight of Jones' involuntary panic. He'd have to thank Gibbs for telling him the tale of the Dead Man's Chest. "What now, Davy Jones? Are we to be two immortal captains and their undying crews, locked in an endless battle until trumpets sound on judgement day? What do you say?"
Jack Sparrow's answer to this very same question, long ago, had been "Or you could surrender."
From that exchange, Barbossa had learned how to solve the age-old riddle, "What happens when an unstoppable attack meets an unyielding defense?"
The answer: "It surrenders."
Question was, would Jones surrender?